Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF) returns for its second season and organizers say it is becoming a platform for multi-ethnic storytelling.
“Film is something that resonates no matter what culture you come from; it’s done differently in every culture but it’s still storytelling,” said Tanya Mullakady, CAFF communications director.
Mullakady said last year people were still just feeling out the festival, and now that it has proven it’s a sustainable and quality event they expect much larger numbers this year.
The festival is also expanding to two locations this year, returning to Carnival Cinemas and adding the Scott Block Theatre in historic downtown.
The red carpet event will feature live entertainment, including Bollywood dancers.
They have also nearly doubled the number of films playing this year, with 68 short films selected from Red Deer and around the world.
Amr Moustafa, a fourth-year film student at Red Deer College, is one of the talented artists whose film When We Listen is being included at CAFF.
Moustafa’s award-winning film, which he made as a third-year student at RDC, has received international recognition and been officially selected for more than 20 film festivals around the world. Originally from Egypt, Moustafa moved to Red Deer to study film at RDC.
“Film festivals are an essential part of the industry,” Moustafa said. He added that if a festival is cultivated effectively it has a very positive impact on a city’s economy. He also thinks it is important for Central Alberta to have its own film festival.
“Red Deer has one of the best film schools in Canada, with the best instructors and tons of talented artists. Unfortunately, most graduates leave Red Deer because there is no film business here. A successful festival could help keep people here,” Moustafa said.
Meanwhile, CAFF has seen an increase in international representation in their films as well as in the team behind the festival. “It’s really neat – it’s come full circle,” Mullakady said.
It was not something the organizers did deliberately, but their members now include people from Spanish, South American, Asian, Indian and Caucasian backgrounds.
“I think it’s really interesting; some of our films are about Indigenous people, some are from overseas — it’s a real mosaic. We have our distinctions and yet we live together,” Mullakady said.
As the founders of the festival, she and her husband Rajit, CAFF president, see real value in the diversity of their team.
Tanya said one of the incredible things about film as a medium is that it helps open people’s eyes to other people’s experiences and different viewpoints.
She believes it can also be a venue for people to be more accepting of each other’s culture differences and that having CAFF adds culture to Central Alberta.
Mullakady added that the ethnic landscape in Central Alberta has changed dramatically over the last two decades.
“I think Red Deer actually has more culture than it knows what to with,” she said.